Suffolk bereavement charity founder up for national award

Suzy Clifford from Hope after Suicide

Suzy Clifford from Hope after Suicide - Credit: Suzy Clifford

A Suffolk woman who has been helping others through the most traumatic times in their lives has been recognised for her incredible work. 

Suzy Clifford, from Bury St Edmunds, has been named as a finalist in the Women and Home, Woman of the year competition for the East Midlands and East of England. 

Mrs Clifford has dedicated the past decade of her life to helping people who have lost loved ones to suicide after suffering her own loss. 

Her charity, Hope after Suicide Loss, provides a unique form of support for those left behind. 

"What we do is we combine experience with training," said Mrs Clifford. 

"We are quite unique in that people who deliver the service have to have been bereaved by suicide themselves.

"We do ask all people delivering the service to do the first part of the BACP counselling training." 

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Mrs Clifford said the shared experience was a crucial part of the way the charity worked. 

"There's a lot of misunderstanding with suicide loss, there's different hurdles," said Mrs Clifford. 

"Unless you've been through those hurdles we would claim people wouldn't appreciate the big difference with suicide loss. 

"It's the only death on the planet where the person has died at their own hand. 

"That can torment survivors and can be very traumatic for survivors. 

"For us it's not about setting time limits on trauma. We all know that trauma can't be put in any little box. 

"So we offer open-ended support that responds to the need of trauma. 

"We don't offer a magic wand but if the survivor is willing to invest in their own mental health then we will stick with them."

The charity's establishment came from the loss of Mrs Clifford's husband, who died by suicide 12 years ago. 

"My motivation to launch the first service was because there was nothing out there," said Mrs Clifford. 

"General bereavement is not the right place to go because you are sitting among people that have some characteristics of grief but their loss is understandable and explainable and ours is not. 

"Ours is about mental torment as much as it is our hearts are broken. 

"Initially I need to be with people who spoke the same language and got it."

Mrs Clifford said that the change in people was one of the best parts of her job. 

"It's extraordinarily rewarding to see someone who is struggling day to day with just the basic tasks of life and just to walk with them and support them," said Mrs Clifford. 

"To see them after some time to be able to rebuild a life they would have never imagined is really indescribable."

Now, Mrs Clifford's efforts are set to be recognised on the national stage after she became a finalist in the Women and Home, Woman of the Year competition. 

"I was quite shocked," said Mrs Clifford. 

"It is not so important for me to be recognised as the service. 

"I was delighted that people will begin to recognise this much needed service we deliver."

Mrs Clifford said that winning the award would be an amazing platform to help raise awareness of the issues she deals with at the charity. 

"It will be amazing because there is always that need on mental health subjects to raise that profile and make people aware that time limited services are just no good for people that are profoundly affected," said Mrs Clifford.  

"For the first 12 weeks of my loss I could not have told you what day it was."

Mrs Clifford says the charity will continue to help those that need it, despite the challenges of coronavirus.

"It's changed the service quite a bit like most services," said Mrs Clifford. 

"We were very much in favour of face to face whereas now we have adopted virtual platforms and we offer phone to phone."

The Woman of the Year competition ends in on July 31 and Mrs Clifford will find out if she's won shortly after that. 

If you are in need of the services provided by Hope After Suicide please contact them on 07531 087 623 or visit their website